As you can probably gather from the title, I just got back from an extended trip from London. I left for London immediately the first day of my spring break because I knew that school has gotten a bit too stifling for me. To be honest London is probably not the first choice among my peers (Europe seems to be a popular choice for university students come spring, for obvious reasons) but I figured I might as well make the most out of my strategic location since London is only half an hour away by train besides…I’m not the biggest fan of travelling by plane because it’s such a hassle, I prefer trains because it’s more time-efficient (no need for check-in, luggage collection etc) and generally more convenient for me. I’m the sort of person who tends to accumulate a (ever-so growing) list of places to see, things to do and food recommendations in my travel bucket list. I have tons of bookmarked links about things I need to check out someday and for some reason I have always wanted to check out the markets in London (for years) as well as do some serious thrifting (confession: I have a thing for really old stuff I love how there’s a story behind each vintage find). And the thing is though is that no one else seems to be as excited about these things as me. I used to think that it’ll be nice to have a like-minded companion who’d be willing to explore places with me but as time goes by I realised that it’ll take forever to find one so I might as well just follow my heart and do whatever I want. I had my first attempt at travelling solo last year and I was so surprised to realise how liberating it is to be able to have your own time and space to think and reflect on life. I especially love how much freedom I am given in planning my own travelling schedules (none of that Hop On Hop Off touristy rubbish haha) according to my personal taste. Since then, I’ve made up my mind to make this a regular thing. So long story short, London seemed to be the perfect choice for a quick last-minute getaway.
I then decided to stay in a youth hostel around Notting Hill for 5D4Ns due to budget restraints. It was really cheap – best part was the fact that the room rate was inclusive of two meals a day too! – Breakfast and dinner during the weekdays and also breakfast and lunch during the weekends. It’s perfect for travellers who are looking to stretch their money for a bit more longer. The facilities were rather basic (as expected) so if you’re expecting hotel standard you will be underwhelmed but for those who don’t mind roughing it out for a bit, staying in hostels is probably one of the best ways to meet people from all over the world especially if you’re sharing a dorm. Once you get past the dorm factor all is fine.
The first day was mostly spent on settling down and figuring out my travel route for the next few days. Since there was a bit of time left of the day I decided to check out Leadenhall Market (which was used to represent the area of London near The Leaky Cauldron and Diagon Alley in the film Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone!!!) because I love all things Harry Potter
Here are some pictures.
This market is located between Gracechurch and Lime Street.
Nearest Underground: Bank and Monument.
Best time to visit: During weekdays during lunch time. If you want to take pictures with minimal distractions I’d say around 3ish in the afternoon.
Suggestions >> From Bank you can either: take the Central line to St. Paul’s for St. Paul’s Cathedral (2 mins walk away) OR go to Bond Street and stop by Smack Deli for a bite (I recommend the £7.50 Seven Samurai lobster roll) OR head over to Liverpool Street (which is a good starting point if you want to explore all the ultra-cool parts of East London like Shoreditch, Brick Lane, Spitalfields, Hackney just to mention a few)
After that I went back to the hostel to rest for a bit before going out to search for Kyoto Garden, which is said to be a hidden gem in Central London. It was hard to find but worth it. It’s a pretty spot for those seeking for a bit of tranquility in London. 😀
On my second day I decided to start my day with a meal at the much-raved The Breakfast Club near Soho. I reached there around 9.45am and only had to queue for one hour (which is a huge improvement from last time’s 2.5 hours LOL). I decided to try out the Pancakes and Bacon per my friend’s recommendation (the portion is massive!) which was okay I guess. Okay here’s the thing, (unpopular opinion I know) I find the food in TBC decent enough but not mindblowingly good (the queue can be pretty off-putting tbh I mean if I’m queuing for something and it’s not out of the world amazing would you still go back the next time? Don’t answer HAHA oops I’m one of those who kept going back even though I wasn’t impressed LOL I guess I was pretty fixated on finding out exactly what is so rave-worthy about the place.
After that I decided to check out the main shopping spots in London (Oxford Street, Regent Street, Carnaby Street) and just look around fashion labels that I’ve always been curious about (Monki, American Apparel, C.O.S and Dahlia) and other favourites like & Other Stories. Carnaby Street is probably your best bet if you’re into independent fashion brands (I cannot recommend Dahlia enough for the girls who loves a bit of fun in their wardrobe).
Department store-wise Selfridges, Harrods and Harvey Nichols are the usual spots tourists gravitate to but I would like to recommend Liberty (go to the home-decor section and you’ll be blown away T______T) for a change.
On my third day I spent most of my time in Portobello Road Market (which is my main purpose of this trip, seeing how it’s been made famous by the film Notting Hill) and let me tell you I spent my entire afternoon in a trance, transfixed by the bedazzling wide selection of antiques, vintage items and great oldies music all over. It’s as if I got transported back into time.
More colour~~~ :3
Try a Sunday circuit of: Liverpool Street station >> Colombia Road Flower Market, then walk along Colombia road then South to Brick Lane (for Brick Lane Market, the Sunday Upmarket, Brick Lane Vintage Market) , Spitalfields market and back to Liverpool Street station.
On my last day in London I met up with a friend from twitter-verse and checked out the Alexander McQueen Savage Exhibition together with her at the Victoria and Albert Museum. ^____^
Portobello Road – good for antiques, jewellery and all sorts of random knick knacks.You can easily spend a whole day here on Saturdays when all stores are fully open. However, considering how tourists from all over the world are drawn to here because of the film Notting Hill, the crowd can get a bit overwhelming during the weekends. Even so, I highly recommend this market for its one-of-a-kind nostalgic ambience that you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else. Just remember to start early!
Columbia Road – Bustling market for all sorts of plants, flowers and everything else garden-related. A lot of Instagrammers come here for their flower pictures ^.^ Note: it’s only open on Sundays from 8am-3pm.
Brick Lane – You can find pretty much everything and anything here. From street food, antiques, art to fashion and more, you name it, you’ll find it. This place is a good starting point for thrifting and finding good vintage bargains (you just have to dig deep). It’s only open on Sundays from Sunday 8am-3pm.
Sunday UpMarket (at the Old Truman Brewery) – An indoor market for clothes, fashion accessories, music, crafts, food, art, vintage etc. Come with an empty stomach so that you can try out a wide variety of street-food in the food market section. Open on Sundays from 10am-5pm.
I don’t recommend the Old Spitalfields Market since there’s barely anything to see there and also ’cause the antique finds aren’t as extensive as the ones on Portobello Road Market.
That’s all for now. I hope that you’ve enjoyed reading this post. :3